Court permanently bans enforcement of Kansas ‘ag-gag’ law

The litigation was brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund

WICHITA, Kan.  – A federal judge on Friday blocked enforcement of provisions in a Kansas law that ban the secret filming at slaughterhouses and other livestock facilities.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil issued the permanent injunction after finding in January that the state’s “Ag-Gag” law unconstitutionally criminalized free speech. The law, which was enacted in 1990, had made it a crime or anyone to take a picture or video at animal facilities without the owner’s consent or to enter them under false pretenses.

“We are disappointed with the ruling and we will be evaluating the next steps, including whether an appeal is warranted,” the Kansas attorney general’s office said in written statement.

The litigation was brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Food Safety, Shy 38 Inc., and Hope Sanctuary. Vratil had mostly ruled in their favor earlier this year, but they subsequently sought an amended judgment that included a permanent injunction against enforcement.

The groups argued that without such an injunction the law would continue to chill the exercise of First Amendment rights and that nothing would prevent the state from attempting to enforce those provisions.

Vratil agreed with those arguments in issuing the permanent injunction.

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